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Klaus Moeltner

Klaus Moeltner
250 Drillfield Dr.
312 Hutcheson Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Dr. Moeltner is an expert in environmental economics, specifically the valuation of natural resources and amenities, and related econometric methods. He has worked on recreation demand, wildfire smoke and health, urban water use, valuation of wetlands, valuation of water quality, harmful algal blooms, and housing market studies involving risks of coastal flooding, watershed restoration, and the effects of forest damage.

He has published close to 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and several book chapters, and contributed to over $5 million in grants as PI or Co-PI. He serves as a co-editor, editorial board member, and reviewer for leading journals in the field.

Dr. Moeltner is a member of several interdisciplinary research groups at Virginia Tech, such as the Global Change Center, the Coastal Resilience Group, and the Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program in Remote Sensing


Applied econometrics and economic analytics; environmental and natural resource economics


Ph.D. Economics, University of Washington, 2000

M.A. Economics, University of Washington, 1998

M.A. International Policy Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, 1994

M.S. Environmental Planning & Engineering,

University of Agriculture and Forestry, Vienna, Austria, 1990

Current Research Projects

Agricultural best practices and water quality: In collaboration with watershed modelers and GIS experts, we examine how agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) translate into water quality improvements, and how these improvements are valued by the underlying population. In one project, we accomplish this via an aggregated ("meta") regression that draws from existing studies and applies our findings to selected case study watersheds in the U.S. In the second project, we use an online survey with interactive maps to elicit Virginian residents' willingness-to-pay for water quality improvements in selected watersheds across the state.

  • Both projects are funded by USDA-NIFA. 
  • Econometric innovations: Locally-weighted meta-regression and benefit transfer; Hierarchical Bayesian choice model with salience indicator.

Economic implications of Florida Red Tide: In a collaborative effort with local researchers we implemented a household survey along the Florida Gulf Coast to estimate the economic benefits that could result from a temporally and spatially more refined forecasting system for air quality problems related to red tide algal blooms. We find per-household, per-year willingness-to-pay for such a system to substantially exceed estimated implementation costs, providing strong evidence of positive net benefits if such a system were to be developed and implemented.

  • Funding: Global Change Center and Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment (both at Virginia Tech.

The economic benefits of improving water quality in large-scale river systems: We use new survey methodology and online labor markets to find out how people value better water quality throughout a large watershed in the Northeast, and if these values are sensitive to the type of policy interventions that bring about the improvements.

  • Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Econometric innovation: Bayesian logit model with variable uncertainty.

Coastal flood hazards and Northeast housing values: We examine the impact on property values of being located in a high-risk coastal flood zone along the New England seaboard. We also take a closer look at the effect of human-made protective structures, such as seawalls, on home values.

  • Funded by the Northeast Sea Grant Consortium. Econometric innovation: Bayesian matching methods.

Nonlinear Meta-regression for Benefit Transfer: Government agencies such as the EPA use primarily existing studies and a prediction approach labeled "Benefit Transfer" to inform future clean air and water policies. However, existing BT models do not satisfy basic axioms of economic theory, such as the adding-up conditions (total societal benefit from a policy should not be sensitive to the number of incremental steps in which the policy is implemented). We developed a new Bayesian econometric model that satisfies this and other fundamental theoretical conditions. We illustrate our approach using a meta-dataset on water quality improvements in rivers and lakes, as well as another set on changes in wetland acreage over large regions.

  • Econometric innovations: Bayesian Nonlinear Meta-regression (BNLM). Locally-Weighted Meta-regression (LW-MRM).

Urban stream restoration and property values: We examine if watershed restoration projects in the Portland, OR, area have impacted the value of nearby residential properties, using innovative econometric matching methods.

  • Funded by USDA / NIFA. Econometric innovation: Bayesian matching methods.

Households' vulnerability to power outages and attitudes towards an expanded power grid: For a large sample of European households we examine their willingness-to-pay to avoid power outages, as well as their willingness to accept electricity-related infrastructure near their residence. We project how these values and attitudes might evolve in light of climate change.

  • Funded by the European Union and the Province of Upper Austria. 
  • Econometric innovation: Bayesian Recursive Multivariate Probit.

Optimal labor contracts for online workers: We collaborate with remote sensing experts to hire online workers via Amazon's Mechanical Turk workplace to interpret satellite images for clouds and cloud shadows. This will help foresters identify untainted images suitable for further analysis of forest health and change over time.

  • Funded by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Forest pests and home values: Much of the American West is impacted by explosive populations of the native Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB), and resulting large-scale damage to forestlands. Our research focuses on the impact of diseased trees on home values, and how sensitive these values are to errors in geocoding of properties and in localized damage assessment via aerial detection surveys.

  • Funded by the Forest Service Southern Research Station. Methodological innovation: Repeated-sales model with translating commodities.

Residential outdoor water use: In several ongoing projects in the Reno, NV, area we examine the impact of outdoor watering policies on households' compliance and water use, controlling for peer effects and length of residence. Future efforts will take a closer look at the role of Home Owners' Organizations (HOAs) in water use and conservation.

  • Funded by local water utilities.

Undergraduate Courses:

  • Introduction to Environmental and Resource Economics (UNR)
  • Introduction to Statistical Methods (UNR)
  • Valuation of Non-Market Goods (UNR)

Graduate Courses:

  • Bayesian Data Analysis (UNR)
  • Econometrics I (UNR)
  • Econometrics II (UNR)
  • Microeconomic Theory II (UNR)
  • Valuation of Non-Market Goods (UNR)
  • Bayesian Econometric Analysis (VT)
  • Econometrics II ("Empirical Economics", VT)
  • Economic Valuation of Environmental Change (VT)
  • Environmental Economic Theory and Policy (VT)

Courses and Workshops outside of UNR and VT:

  • An Introduction to Bayesian Econometrics with Applications in Non-market Valuation, Free University of Amsterdam, Dec. 2009 (1 week)
  • Workshop on Bayesian Estimation Methods in Meta-Analysis, Oregon State University, Oct. 1, 2009
  • Modern Micro-Econometric Methods, University of Innsbruck, Austria, June 2008 and 2009 (2-3 weeks)

Current advising:

6 Ph.D. students (Chair or Co-Chair for 2)


Academic Employment

  • Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech (Current)
  • Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech (2011-2015)
  • Associate Professor, Department of Resource Economics, University of Nevada, Reno (2006 –2010)
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Resource Economics, University of Nevada, Reno (2000 - 2006)

Other Professional Experience

  • Visiting Scholar, Luskin Center for Innovation, School of Public Affairs, UCLA (Aug-Dec. 2010)
  • Visiting Instructor, Free University, Amsterdam (Dec. 2009)
  • Visiting Instructor, University of Innsbruck (June 2008, 2009)
  • Technical specialist, World Bank, Washington, D.C., 1994-1996


Committee member, honorable mention for best Master's Thesis 2022 (by Shannon Fluharty), SAEA

2018 best paper award by the Virginia Association of Economists (VAE)

Best paper published in Environmental and Resource Economics during 2014, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE)

Advisor, best Master's Thesis 2014 (by Jed Cohen), Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA)

College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resources (CABNR) Outstanding Instructor 2004

James O. York Fellowship, University of Washington, 1996

Scholarship for Graduate Studies Abroad, Austrian Ministry for Science and Research, 1994-1996

Selected recent publications

Johnston, R., K. Moeltner, (published online Jan. 2019). Special Flood Hazard Effects on Coastal and Interior Home Values: One Size Does Not Fit All, Environmental and Resource Economics.

Moeltner, K., (2019). Bayesian Nonlinear Meta Regression for Benefit Transfer, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 93, 44-62.

Moeltner, K., K. Spears, L. Yu (2019). Breakfast at School: A First Look at the Role of Time and Location for Participation and Nutritional Intake, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 101, 39-57.

Cohen, J., K. Moeltner, J. Reichl, M. Schmidthaler (2018).  Valuing Electricity-dependent Infrastructure: An Essential-input Approach, Energy Economics, 73, 258-273.

Jarrad, M., N.R. Netusil, K. Moeltner, A.T. Morzillo, J.A. Yeakley (2018). Urban Stream Restoration Projects:  Do Project Phase, Distance, and Type Affect Nearby Property Sale Prices? Land Economics, 94, 368-385.

Cohen, J., K. Moeltner, J. Reichl, M. Schmidthaler (2018).  Effect of Global Warming on Willingness-to-pay for Uninterrupted Electricity Supply in European Nations, Nature Energy, 3, 37-45.

Pekka-Kuusela, O., G. Amacher, K. Moeltner (2017).  Enforcing the Rules in Timber Concessions: Performance Bonding in the Presence of Corruption Risk, Forest Policy and Economics, 85, 52-64

Moeltner, K., C. Blinn, T. Holmes (2017).  Forest Pests and Home Values: The Importance of Accuracy in Damage Assessment and Geocoding of Properties, Journal of Forest Economics, 26, 46-55,

Cohen, Jed J. & Moeltner, Klaus & Reichl, Johannes & Schmidthaler, Michael, 2016. "Linking the value of energy reliability to the acceptance of energy infrastructure: Evidence from the EU," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 124-143.

Cohen, J., K. Moeltner, J. Reichl, M. Schmidthaler (2016). An Empirical Analysis of Local Opposition to new Transmission Lines across the EU-27, Energy Journal, 37(3), 59-82.

Cohen, J., C. Blinn, K. Boyle, T. Holmes, K. Moeltner (2016). Hedonic Valuation with Translating Commodities: Mountain Pine Beetles and Host Trees in the Colorado Front Range. Environmental and Resource Economics, 63(3), 613-642 

Vinoles, V., K. Moeltner, S. Stoddard (2015). Length of Residency and Water Use in an Arid Urban Environment, Water Resources and Economics, 12(Oct.), 52-66 

Yu , L., S. B. Ball, C. E. Blinn, K. Moeltner, S. Peery, V.A. Thomas, R. H. Wynne (2015). CloudSourcing: Using an Online Labor Force to Detect Clouds and Cloud Shadows in Landsat Images. Remote Sensing, 7(3), 2334-2351 

Castledine, A., K. Moeltner, M.K. Price, S. Stoddard (2014), Free to Choose:  Promoting Conservation by Relaxing Outdoor Watering Restrictions. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 107(A), 324-343 

Johnston, R., K. Moeltner, (2014). Meta-Modeling and Benefit Transfer: The Empirical Relevance of Source-Consistency in Welfare Measures. Environmental and Resource Economics. 59, 337-361 

Moeltner, K, R.S. Rosenberger, (2014). Cross-Context Benefit Transfer: A Bayesian Search for Information Pools. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 96(2), 469-488 

Moeltner, K, M.K. Kim, E. Zhu, W. Yang, (2013). Wildfire Smoke and Health Impacts: A Closer Look at Fire Attributes and their Marginal Effects. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 66(3), 476--496 

Kobayashi, M., K. Moeltner, K. Rollins, (2012). Latent Thresholds Analysis of Choice Data under Value Uncertainty. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 94(1), p. 189-208

Moeltner K., R. von Haefen, (2011).  Microeconometric Strategies for Dealing with Unobservables and Endogenous Variables in Recreation Demand Models.  Annual Review of Resource Economics, 3, p.375-396

Dekker T., R, Brouwer, M. Hofkes, K. Moeltner, (2011). The Effect of Risk Context on the Value of a Statistical Life: A Bayesian Meta-model. Environmental and Resource Economics, 49, p.597-624

Moeltner, K., J. S. Shonkwiler, (2010). Intercept and Recall: Examining Avidity Carryover in On-Site Collected Trip Reports. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 15(7), p.418-427

Davis A., K. Moeltner, (2010). Valuing the Prevention of an Infestation: The Threat of the New Zealand Mud Snail in Northern Nevada. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, 39 (1), p.56-74.

Moeltner, K., R. Johnston, R. S. Rosenberger, J. M. Duke, (2009). Benefit Transfer from Multiple Contingent Experiments: A Flexible Two Step Model Combining Individual Choice Data with Community Characteristics. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 91 (5), p. 1335-42.

Moeltner, K., R. Woodward (2009). Meta-Functional Benefit Transfer for Wetland Valuation: Making the Most of Small Samples. Environmental and Resource Economics, 42 (1), p. 89-109.

Moeltner, K., R. S. Rosenberger (2008), Meta-Regression and Benefit Transfer: Data Space, Model Space, and the Quest for 'Optimal Scope'. B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 8 (1), Contributions.

Moeltner, K., K.J. Boyle, R. W. Paterson (2007). Meta-Analysis and Benefit-Transfer for Resource Valuation: Addressing Classical Challenges with Bayesian Modeling. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 53 (2), p.250 – 269.

Curtis, K. R., K. Moeltner, (2007). Consumer Risk Perception and Purchase Propensity for Genetically Modified Foods in Romania. Agribusiness. 23 (2), p. 263-278.

Curtis, K. R., K. Moeltner, (2006). Genetically Modified Food Market Participation and Consumer Risk Perceptions: A Cross-Country Comparison. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 54(2), p. 289-310.

Englin, J. E., J. McDonald, K. Moeltner, (2006). Valuing Ancient Forest Ecosystems: An Analysis of Backcountry Hiking in Jasper National Park. Ecological Economics. 57, (4), p. 665-678.


Book Chapters

Cohen, J., K. Moeltner, J. Reichl, M. Schmidthaler (2016). Electricity Supply Security, Service Valuation and Public Perception of Energy Infrastructures, in Protecting Electricity Networks form Natural Hazards, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), p.36-44. 

K. Moeltner (2015).  Optimal Scope and Bayesian Model Search in Benefit Transfer, in Benefit Transfer of Environmental and Resource Values:  A Handbook for Researchers and Practitioners, R. J. Johnston, J. Rolfe, R. S. Rosenberger, and R. Brouwer, eds., Springer Publishing.

K. Moeltner, J. J. Murphy,  J. K. Stranlund, and M.A. Velez (2011).  Institutional Heterogeneity in Social Dilemma Games: A Bayesian Examination, in Handbook on Experimental Economics and the Environment, J. List and M. Price, eds., Edward Elgar Publishing.

Layton, D. F., K. Moeltner (2005). The Cost of Power Outages to Heterogeneous Households - An Application of the Gamma-Lognormal Distribution,  in Applications of Simulation Methods in Environmental and Resource Economics, R. Scarpa and A. Alberini, eds., Springer Publishing, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.